Jordan border crossing Syria 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Majed Jaber )
WASHINGTON – F-16 warplanes, Patriot missile batteries and roughly 700
combat-ready American troops will remain in Jordan as a contingency force for
the Syrian conflict, President Barack Obama told Congress on
Thousands of US forces were in Jordan conducting a military
exercise that ended last week.
President Obama said that a portion of
those troops are remaining at the request of the Jordanian
The decision to keep Patriots and fighter jets near the
Syrian border raised eyebrows among Russian officials, who reasserted on Friday
that any no-fly zone imposed by the United States in Syria would be
But the move provides significant foreign support for Jordan’s
King Abdullah, who is facing pressure at home as Syria’s civil war threatens to
spill over his country’s border. Over half a million Syrians have already
crossed into Jordan seeking refuge, putting unexpected strains on the Kingdom’s
While the White House continues to evolve its Syria policy, a
report from the Los Angeles Times asserted that the CIA has been training rebels
on anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry from bases in Turkey and Jordan since
The report, which cites rebel leaders as sources, says the US
trained rebels in two-week courses on Russian-designed heavy weaponry, while not
providing the rebels with the actual arms themselves.
The weapons were
instead provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though the shipments allegedly took
longer and were smaller than expected.
The Obama administration has said
it will directly provide only light arms to rebel groups, after announcing
findings of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime on its own people on
multiple occasions over the course of the two-year conflict.